Judges 20:1-48 Undeserved Protection
All Israel is up in arms over the treatment the Levite and his concubine received. They are ready to dispense justice to those who committed these offenses. But Benjamin won’t turn them over. Battles lines are drawn up and war breaks out.
We left our story last time where the Levite cut his concubine’s body into 12 pieces and had it taken throughout Israel. He wanted to shock the people with the brutality that was done. I’m going to come right out and say it; HE was brutal too.
I don’t doubt that this poor woman’s body was covered in cuts and bruises but why subject her to more degradation by cutting her into pieces and carrying her throughout the territory to be an object of horror to the nation? Wasn’t there a better way to get the story out?
The Levite got exactly what he wanted. He got the attention of all the leaders of the tribes. The Levite made sure that the story told while carrying the parts of the woman about identified him as the one who was wronged. So everyone knew just who to go to once they had been approached. From the fact that everyone gathered at the same time I would bet that the message delivered with the body parts display specified a time and place to gather for more information.
The people are incensed over this display. “Such a thing has never been seen from the day that the people of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt until this day; consider it, take counsel, and speak” (Judges 19:30). The people came out ready to do battle; dressed for war and wanting to know who the enemy is so they can right this wrong.
The Levite… (Have you noticed that I stopped referring to him as “our” Levite? I quit ‘claiming’ him when he displayed such abominable lack of concern for his concubine.) …told the story. His story didn’t go into detail as to ‘why’ the group who came after him “meant to kill” (verse 5b) him. He didn’t tell how they were seeking relations with him or how he threw his concubine to them instead. He did tell them that the men had violated his concubine. He didn’t say they had killed her. “And they violated my concubine, and she is dead” (verse 5c). He also didn’t say that she lay on the doorstep dying while he was locked safely in the house.
Hebrew law states that if a person is injured and dies of those injuries before sunset, the person who inflicted them is guilty of murder. If the person lives beyond a day that guilt is absolved. So these men were guilty of the concubine’s death legally. I agree with that but I also believe those in the house should bear some of the guilt.
There is one more point in the Levite’s statement I want to point out. He states “The leaders of Gibeah rose against me” (verse 5a). How does he know that they were the leaders? We are told they were “worthless fellows” (Judges 19:22b). I wonder if the man he spent the night with told him of their identities. It sounds reasonable. Or was the Levite laying the matter at the leader’s feet because it was their town and they would be responsible for the law and order within?
This act will NOT go unpunished! This is the cry from the people. “None of us will go to his tent, and none of us will return to his house… that when they come they may repay Gibeah of Benjamin for all the outrage that they have committed in Israel” (verses 8b &10b).
EVERYONE, except the town of Gibeah, is requested to participate. Even the rest of the tribe of Benjamin is asked to help with this recompense. This behavior should turn anyone’s stomach and EVERYONE should agree that these men deserve punishment for their actions. The people asked for the men directly responsible for this act. Everything would be resolved if these men were held accountable for their actions.
The tribe of Benjamin acts just like the parent who thinks their child can do no wrong. They protect the perpetrators with their very lives. SO MUCH could have been avoided if only Benjamin listened.
I LIKE that the people inquired of the Lord before doing battle BUT did you notice that they didn’t ask His permission before making their vow? Their first question to the Lord should have been, “What shall we do about this?” Instead it is, “Which one in my group should go first?” God chose the tribe of Judah to be this group’s first wave.
They forgot to ask if they would be successful in their battle. They also forgot to ask for His attack plan. Two times the forces of Israel went up against the tribe of Benjamin and had their heads handed to them. Both times they were defeated they asked God if they were supposed to continue the campaign. God told them to go; to fight the battle they had committed to.
Did you notice that the first two offensives the battle plan is identical? “The people, the men of Israel, took courage, and again formed the battle lines in the same place where they had formed it on the first day” (verse 22). On the third attempt is when they changed their tactics.
AFTER being assured by the Lord that they would be successful this time, Israel used the same battle tactics this time as Joshua used in his second battle with Ai. The “draw them away from the city” technique that made the defenders thinking they were winning only to turn around and see that the devastation that is behind them. After this they were caught in a pincer position with enemies on ALL sides.
God gives them the victory He promised but it was at quite a cost, on both sides. I wonder how it would have been different if they had consulted God BEFOR they committed to this course of action. It’s like telling God your plans and expecting Him to go along with them; even bless them. I’ve heard it said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.”
The people are finally satisfied that the perpetrators have been punished. “So all who fell that day of Benjamin were 25,000 men who drew the sword, all of them men of valor. But 600 men turned and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon and remained at the rock of Rimmon four months. And the men of Israel turned back against the people of Benjamin and struck them with the edge of the sword, the city, men and beasts and all that they found. And all the towns that they found they set on fire.” (verses 47-48).
Our next story starts with the people making a promise AGAIN before asking for God’s direction. I wonder if that is the main point the Holy Spirit wants us (me) to take from today’s story. I’ve heard it said, “It is easier to get forgiveness than permission” but that’s not true. Yes. God will forgive you of your mistakes but they bring consequences with them. When I get out ahead of God I find a LOT MORE landmines to step on than if I wait and follow in His footsteps. NEITHER journey is trouble free but the second offers a LOT better chance of actual success.
Father God, thank You for dealing with the men who violated and abused this woman. There was little protection for the women of bible times. Their societies didn’t value them as they should. Some societies still don’t value women as You do. I pray for these women. I pray they will see how You value them.
Jesus demonstrated that value to many women He encountered in His walk on earth. The world didn’t value them at that time but He did. He had compassion on the woman found in adultery. He elevated Mary, Lazarus’ sister’s, story to be told with His own. He felt the grief of a widow who had lost her only son and restored him to her. He didn’t condemn the woman who touched him and received healing from her continual flow for 12 years, even though the law said she was unclean. His last act before His death on the cross was to put His mother into the hands of someone He trusted to care for her. The first person He spoke to after His resurrection was a Mary Magdalene. He NEVER forbade them to learn from Him or treated them with kindness.
More than the “justice” done in the battle of Your story, THESE are the things I pray for every woman on earth. Thank You Father for the country I live in that treats women this way.